Food and Forgiveness
Food and Forgiveness
Food and Forgiveness
Last week we looked at an attempted trick question posed to Jesus about:
What must I do to inherit eternal life
Love God (Shema)
Clarifying question, who is my neighbor
Jesus explains how to Love God.
Mary and Martha
Image: A relationship requires both. You cannot focus only on loving others and never generate a relationship with God and visa-versa.
What is prayer? Why pray? How do we pray? What should we expect? What does God desire?
These are great questions.
Society has challenged prayer.
A little more than 3 years ago people were fed up with “thoughts and prayers” in light of tragedies, violence, and mass shootings.
Outsiders of Christianity were looking at the insiders of Christianity and were fed up.
This used to bother me…But not any more.
Modern people began to question how a good God can let bad things happen. It is a good question, we are not going to give a satisfactory answer in a short sermon. That is not to say I have a satisfactory answer, I have what I believe, but it may not be what you believe.
You might ask…why does this not bother me?
Because critics of “thoughts and prayers” are recognizing the same thing we are. They see evil deeds, and they lament and lash out with anger, wanting something done. They lament the situation.
Scripture is full of lament, people who are experiencing or witnessing evil, often shout out in disgust. Authors of scripture repeat often, “How long Lord?”
Their cry is our cry.
Their response is to legislate the hate away
Our response is to ask God to fix this, but how?
Do we want God to fix everyone?
Do we want God to remove evil from the earth?
Do we want God to get rid of the evil doers?
Do we want God to make everyone believe?
Do we want God to fix our government?
What is it we want?
I think MARTHA and MARY (last week) give us some insight into HOW we behave.
Her sister, Mary, sat at the Lord’s feet, listening to what he taught. But Martha was distracted by the big dinner she was preparing. She came to Jesus and said, “Lord, doesn’t it seem unfair to you that my sister just sits here while I do all the work? Tell her to come and help me.” But the Lord said to her, “My dear Martha, you are worried and upset over all these details! There is only one thing worth being concerned about. Mary has discovered it, and it will not be taken away from her.”
This is not a life or death situation, but for Martha it is VERY IMPORTANT.
Notice what she asks of Jesus.
CHANGE MARY. FIX MARY. MAKE HER HELP ME!
Remember, this event was put here to teach us what loving God looks like.
Mary has chosen the better thing.
But, this is often how we approach problems in our world.
God, fix them! Make them do it!
Mary showed us how to listen…But how do we speak to God.
Luke addresses that too.
Once Jesus was in a certain place praying. As he finished, one of his disciples came to him and said, “Lord, teach us to pray, just as John taught his disciples.” Jesus said, “This is how you should pray: “Father, may your name be kept holy. May your Kingdom come soon. Give us each day the food we need, and forgive us our sins, as we forgive those who sin against us. And don’t let us yield to temptation.”
This may not be the form we learned, and that is okay.
Let me ask you a question…when evil rears its ugly head, is this the prayer you pray?
And not word for word, Jesus taught against that.
But is this the model you use?
This is an important passage.
Jesus is teaching how to pray.
New Testament authors would go on to expand on this a bit more, but this is the fundamental model for prayers of request.
Father (intimate), reminder that we are children of God, we are his creation, he breathed life, and we benefit from that.
This is the WHO, WHO WE ARE.
May your name be kept holy (Name theology). You MUST know your Hebrew Bible (OT) to understand this. We BEAR THE NAME.
This is the WHY, WHY WE ARE
May your kingdom come soon (Victory over evil) This is the what. Evil must be crushed and Eden will be restored. There is only one plan, PLAN A
This is the WHAT, WHAT WILL BE DONE
Give us each day the food we need (God provides) The earth and the trees were given a function to provide food for us. The ONLY REASON people in the world go hungry is because of other people. (Kings, rulers, authorities)
Notice the cycle. Daily. Important.
Forgive us our sins (restore us to Eden). God will bring his kingdom, but nothing UNCLEAN can be in his kingdom. Make us CLEAN.
We forgive those who hurt us. This is how we IMAGE GOD. An imager reflects the character of God because we are the image of God.
Human relationships, how we relate to other imagers. i.e. Imagers share food with other imagers.
And don’t lead us into temptation. Tricky and confusion. It means the same thing as “deliver us from evil.” We need delivered from something we cannot overcome or fix. Evil. You must acknowledge evil to be delivered from it.
This is a lament. This is what the critics of “thoughts and prayers” agree with.
This gets a bit complex. Don’t judge. Don’t grudge. Those are temptations.
Acknowledge and cry out when you see evil. Empathy. Sorrow. Sadness. It is okay to say, “God, how much longer?”
Otherwise, are we okay with how our world is?
The layout is a beautiful Chiastic structure prayer:
But he does not stop there…he is going to give an example.
Then, teaching them more about prayer, he used this story: “Suppose you went to a friend’s house at midnight, wanting to borrow three loaves of bread. You say to him, ‘A friend of mine has just arrived for a visit, and I have nothing for him to eat.’ And suppose he calls out from his bedroom, ‘Don’t bother me. The door is locked for the night, and my family and I are all in bed. I can’t help you.’ But I tell you this—though he won’t do it for friendship’s sake, if you keep knocking long enough, he will get up and give you whatever you need because of your shameless persistence.
The example is self explanatory.
Be persistent in your prayer. If you can drive a friend crazy with your all hours of the night pounding on his door, he will give you anything he has!
And that is the point...
“And so I tell you, keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives. Everyone who seeks, finds. And to everyone who knocks, the door will be opened.
Oh are there some who love to strip this verse out of context.
Ask. Ask for what? Something I need or something I want?
What did Jesus teach us to ask for?
May the Kingdom come
Food for each day
Wisdom to defeat temptation (Cain)
Seek. Seek what? Something I need or something I want?
What did Jesus teach us to seek?
Holiness (The Name, HaShem)
Forgiveness for others
Knock on the door. What door, what is this place or building that we should desire to enter?
What did Jesus mention that might have a door?
This is not about money, or riches, or leisure lifestyles.
When you hear that, you should consider this prayer.
Making gold and silver your god
Succumbing to temptation
Desiring food for a lifetime, for yourself
Turning money into holiness
DEFILING THE NAME OF GOD
You can run things through this model:
Someone wrongs you...
A tragedy happens...
You wrong someone...
You are greedy...
NOTE: Your Kingdom come.
Notice, the ultimate solution for evil is the arrival of God’s kingdom. There are two parts:
When we make disciples, we expand the kingdom of God on earth through imperfect humans.
God will establish his Kingdom, and no earthly kingdom made by humans will be like God’s
America may get close, but we are not the Kingdom of God, so DON’T expect it to behave like one!
Jesus is going to use scenarios like this to make his point.
“You fathers—if your children ask for a fish, do you give them a snake instead? Or if they ask for an egg, do you give them a scorpion? Of course not! So if you sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him.”
Interesting that Jesus focuses in on something we consume.
If you remember back to the Martha and Mary story, Martha is concerned with many things, serving her guest.
In the ancient world, FOOD WAS OFFERED TO GODS.
In the context of scripture, God PROVIDES FOOD through the function of creation. And when creation does not provide, God steps in to provide. When humans run an evil game on others, that is when people starve.
Also, kings and emperors were seen as gods. So, they owned all that was produced. It is in the nature of rulers to function this way.
But notice that he does not use an example of WEALTH. HOME. HEALTH.
The LINK is to what a HUMAN FATHER can provide HIS CHILDREN.
But MORE THAN THAT, the focus is the HOLY SPIRIT!
This is what God wan’t to give.
And shouldn’t that be what we are seeking?
What God want’s to give us?
When people are frustrated with your thoughts and prayers, this is what we need to reference.
They are asking for a fish. We are giving them snakes.
They ask for an egg, we give them a scorpion.
They ask for help, we give them the cold shoulder, with a verse, and a judging stare. Instead of the Holy Spirit.
What is Prayer?
Prayer is asking for what is coming while doing what is necessary.
I mentioned this was a chiasm
May your name be Holy
Your kingdom come
Give us our daily bread and forgive us our sins
As we forgive others (expand kingdom)
Deliver us from temptation (Keep the Name holy)
The prayer is about action.
When we hear people who are frustrated with thoughts and prayers, we should see that is a request to us.
But Jeremy, they are trying to silence us, and minimize us, and make us irrelevant. They are atheists who are trying to shut us up and get rid of us and put us into FEMA camps so they can kill us.
Yeah…and tell me what is historically new about that? BDF is what I would say to that.
They may kill the body, but they cannot remove you from God’s Holy Presence, can they?
Or will we let them do that?
Will we let them tempt us to choose good and evil on our own terms?
The prayer that Jesus teaches shows us how to expand the kingdom. Through forgiveness. Through Sharing.
If you have your daily bread and you are cleansed so you can exist in God’s Holy Presence, then WHAT DO YOU REALLY WANT FROM OUR CRITICS?
Their silence and submission? (Cain, Martha, Lemech)
Here is the better question:
What do you want for (not from) others?
Can’t say, “I want to be left alone.” That does not work in this prayer that Jesus taught us.
If we are in the Kingdom, doing Kingdom work, then we are in the business of giving and forgiving.
Otherwise we may be tempted to rule our world on our terms, the way we want it to be ruled.
And that, my friends, will fail every, single, time.